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World War II Database

15 May 1941
  • At midnight, British cruisers HMS Gloucester and HMS Fiji completed the transfer of the 2nd Battalion Leicester Regiment from Alexandria, Egypt to Heraklion, Crete, Greece. During the day, German Luftwaffe aircraft attacked Salamis Navy Yard at Suda Bay, Crete, sinking Greek destroyer Leon. ww2dbase [Balkans Campaign | TH]
  • British losses in France and Norway were publicly announced to be 13,250 killed and 41,000 captured out of 437,000 deployed. ww2dbase [TH]
  • Admiral Darlan returned from meeting with Hitler and Ribbentrop; Vichy-French cabinet approved German concessions as well as French counter-concessions. ww2dbase [François Darlan | TH]
  • British Minister of Labour Ernest Bevin declared that he would not negotiate with Rudolf Heß. ww2dbase [Rudolf Heß | CPC]
  • Axel von Blomberg passed away. ww2dbase [Axel von Blomberg | CPC]
  • In the Libyan-Egyptian border region, British forces advanced in three columns and captured Halfaya Pass and Fort Capuzzo before noon, capturing 347 Axis prisoners (mostly Italians). A German Panzer battalion counterattacked, recapturing Fort Capuzzo by 1445 hours, taking 70 British prisoners. ww2dbase [Operation Brevity | CPC]
  • An Iraqi Blenheim bomber attacked the British column moving from Palestine into Iraq, causing no damage. British Swordfish aircraft from HMS Hermes attacked the Al Qushla barracks in Samawah, Iraq; one aircraft was shot down. Meanwhile, British bombers again attacked French airfields at Palmyra and Damascus, Syria. ww2dbase [Campaigns in the Middle East | CPC]
  • In Russia a document from military planners was issued recommending a short strike against any assembling forces threatening Soviet territory. ww2dbase [Operation Barbarossa | AC]
  • Washington was commissioned into service. ww2dbase [Washington | CPC]
  • Graph was commissioned into service. ww2dbase [Graph | CPC]
  • Dr. Sigmund Rascher requested Heinrich Himmler via a letter requesting concentration camp prisoners to be placed in his disposal to conduct experiments in decompression chambers which simulated high altitude environments. ww2dbase [Discovery of Concentration Camps and the Holocaust | CPC]
  • Walther von Brauchitsch was awarded the Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Saint Alexander of Bulgaria with Swords. ww2dbase [Walther von Brauchitsch | CPC]
Atlantic Ocean
  • German submarine U-105 sank British ship Benvenue 400 miles off Sierra Leone, British West Africa at 2029 hours; 2 were killed, 55 survived and rescued by British liner Empire Trader. ww2dbase [CPC]
  • Alessandro Malaspina set sail for Bordeaux, France at 0400 hours and informed the base of this. The base ordered the ship to extend her war patrol by two days and gave her a new area to patrol; she arrived at the area by 0700 hours. At 1200 hours an Allied convoy was reported in the area, and at 1700 hours the Italian submarine sighted smoke on the horizon. Five minutes later, she sighted an aircraft flying toward the convoy. At 1720 hours, another aircraft was sighted; Italian commanding officer Giuliano Prini ordered machine guns to fire as a precaution as he could not identify the aircraft. At 1749 hours, Alessandro Malaspina was close enough to the convoy to count 18 to 20 freighters, escorted by at least one destroyer. The destroyer spotted the Italian submarine shortly after and turned to attack, forcing Alessandro Malaspina to dive. Above 20 minutes later, having survived the depth charge, the Italians detected three destroyers converging on her position. She was subjected to a series of depth charges until 1953 hours. She remained under water for the rest of the day. ww2dbase [Alessandro Malaspina | CPC]
  • U-43 sank French sailing ship Notre Dame Du Châtelet in the Atlantic Ocean 430 miles west of Brest, France by gunfire at 0415 hours without identifying her nationality; 28 were killed, 10 survived. ww2dbase [U-43 | CPC]
  • At 1003 hours, Morosini was informed by fellow Italian submarine Michele Bianchi that an Allied convoy consisted of 3 freighters, escorted by destroyers, had been sighted an hour prior in the Atlantic Ocean, and Morosini changed course to intercept. At 1339 hours, Michele Bianchi communicated that another convoy, OB 321, was detected at 1315 hours, this one consisting of 10 to 20 freighters escorted by destroyers, and this one being closer to Morosini; Morosini changed course again to intercept the new targets. At 1850 hours, a Catalina aircraft was sighted; Morosini submerged, but without being detected by the aircraft first, which dropped four depth charges at 1854 hours, another four at 1912 hours, and yet another four at 1930 hours. The PBY aircraft was flown by Flight Lieutenant Spotswood of No. 209 Squadron, who launched specifically to hunt for Morosini; corvettes HMS Rhododendron and HMS Hibiscus had also been dispatched to search for Morosini. ww2dbase [Morosini | CPC]
Ethiopia
  • South African and Indian troops linked up at Triangle Hill near Amba Alagi, Ethiopia; they were also joined by Ethiopia guerrilla forces. Meanwhile, Allied shelling of the Italian fortress damaged a oil tank, causing a major oil leak into the garrison's only source of drinking water. ww2dbase [Invasion of Italian East Africa | Amba Alagi | CPC]
Germany Guernsey
  • The Dame of Sark Sibyl Mary Hathaway was reported to be transferred to a German concentration camp as reprisal for civil disobedience. ww2dbase [Sark | CPC]
United Kingdom
  • Gloster's E.28/39 prototype jet fighter took its first flight. The test pilot was Lieutenant Gerry Sayer. ww2dbase [CPC]
Photo(s) dated 15 May 1941
Dodge WC9 1/2 ton ambulance, 15 May 1941British Royal Air Force Vickers Wellesley light bomber kicking up a dust cloud during a take off from an East African airstrip, 15 May 1941.

15 May 1941 Interactive Map

Timeline Section Founder: Thomas Houlihan
Contributors: Alan Chanter, C. Peter Chen, Thomas Houlihan, Hugh Martyr, David Stubblebine
Special Thanks: Rory Curtis




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